Eggs are popping up all over Sky Meadows State Park. Explore the park’s egg-citing bluebird monitoring program, discover various egg-laying reptiles and enjoy a natural egg dye take-home activity. Kids, use your scavenger hunting skills using clues from Harriet’s Story, a fictional account from a young girl growing up in the Crooked Run Valley in the 1850s. Don’t forget to fly on over to our chicken coop and try your hand in our chicken walk!
There’s a song in your heart! Sing it out!
It’s Saturday night, and a guy who calls himself Mr. Charley is belting out Frank Sinatra tune, telling us, “That’s Life.”
After Mr. Charley sits down, a young woman with purple hair gets up to sing an Adele song.
She’s followed by a lady yodeling, “I Wanna be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” — it is so unexpected and well done that the crowd goes wild.
Welcome to Karaoke. If you have a song in your heart, you can sing it out. Or, you can just be a fan.
In every city and every burg, there is someplace you can sing along to your favorite tunes — or watch someone else do it. There are good and bad singers, familiar tunes and some you forgot or never knew. Regulars fans get to know the singers and each other. It is like a weekly social event.
If you haven’t been to karaoke, you can search online for events in your area. Smaller venues, usually bars, have a more intimate audience. Bigger venues tend to attract better singers but can be more impersonal. Show up early to get the best seats. When the show starts, applaud every singer and give newbies encouragement.
If you want to try out your vocals, practice at home first. Rehearse a high-energy song and a slower song. The later it gets, the less likely that a long, slow ballad will be appreciated. You can listen and practice your songs on sites such as Sunfly or Ameritz.
You will give your name and song to the karaoke DJ when you get to the venue. These days, most every song is available, but in some cases, the choice can be limited to songs listed in a book.
When you are called to the front, sing with confidence, and when finished, go immediately to your seat. Making a speech to the audience or lingering up front is frowned upon.
Leaks can be a tell-tale sign
Your vehicle probably isn’t very new. Still, it seems to be running well. Your budget won’t allow you to trade it in for a newer one. Consequently, you pay great attention to its maintenance: You check the tire pressure regularly, keep the vehicle clean, have the oil changed punctually, and use only good quality gasoline. You trust your vehicle entirely. But lately, you have noticed some dark spots on the pavement underneath it. Even worse, these spots appear to be liquid. They might very well mean you have a mechanical leak developing in your car or truck.
What can you do about it? Obviously, an appointment with your favorite mechanic is a must. He will surely find where the leak (or leaks) is coming from and, in most cases, be able to make the necessary repairs.
The key is to understand what the leaks are; in most cases, they are oil. If the spots are black and shiny and feel slick to the touch, chances are its oil, and you should try to locate the source. In many cases, you won’t be able to fix these leaks, and it is time to see your mechanic. If the slick liquid has a reddish color to it, the leak might be coming from the vehicle’s transmission. In this case, it could only be a loose-fitting joint; however, you’ll still want to have a specialist look at it.
If the liquid is green or yellow and feels sticky (and tastes sweet if you dare test it — an old mechanic’s trick that is no longer recommended), chances are the leak is engine coolant. Many other accessories could leak from the steering pumps to the braking system. Never tolerate leaks or ignore them; in every case, have the vehicle inspected by a professional.
Leaks from a vehicle can tell a lot.
Glazed fruit skewers
Sweet and juicy, fruit makes a great summer dessert. This delicious glaze enhances the natural flavor of the fruit to create a crowd-pleasing favorite.
• 10 strawberries, halved lengthwise
• 10 kiwi cubes
• 10 blueberries
• 10 pieces of pineapple
• 10 pieces of cantaloupe
• 10 wooden skewers
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
1. Combine the water and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. If the mixture starts to boil, lower the heat slightly.
2. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 45 minutes.
3. Thread the fruit pieces one after the other on the skewers.
4. Brush the skewers with the simple syrup.
McFadden: Resigned or is he? Hicks: Fired or is he? Legal questions follow Aug. 8 council work session – or was it a meeting first?
Joseph McFadden was philosophical in discussing second thoughts on his sudden resignation on August 8 in the wake of the Front Royal Town Council’s 4-3 vote to immediately terminate Town Manager Steven Hicks. During a Saturday, August 13th phone conversation McFadden confirmed a letter he sent the previous day to Town Hall asking the mayor and council to rescind his resignation as not having been properly submitted by Robert’s Rules of Order.
“It looks like I can withdraw my ‘motion’ to resign … with no acknowledgment by the chair or vote by the members (to accept his resignation) does my motion to resign die on the floor?” McFadden asked of Robert’s Rules of Order guidelines presented to him following his verbal resignation in reaction to the Hicks’ termination.
While standing by his original comments the following day that it was somewhat of a relief to have removed himself from an increasingly contentious political situation within Town Hall, McFadden said that after being approached by a number of constituents and two fellow council members about disappointment in his decision to resign in protest of the majority vote to immediately terminate the town manager without what he considered substantiation of the accusations made against Hicks in closed session, he would be willing to return to council were he allowed to. However, he added that if his request to withdraw his resignation as not properly acknowledged by the mayor and presented to council for a vote accepting it was denied, he would not seek court action to reinstate him.
“This whole thing is a debacle – my resignation was a debacle,” McFadden observed of legal questions that have been raised concerning both Town Manager Hicks’ termination and his subsequent verbal resignation. In fact, McFadden wondered if Hicks was legally terminated as town manager, does he remain the council-appointed Director of FREDA, the Town’s unilateral Economic Development Authority.
As to the emotion involved in his decision, McFadden confirmed that he was not in a good emotional place following what he termed a “very difficult closed session” following planning commission interviews completed after about the first half hour of the one-hour-and-35 minute closed door session. The fact that the meeting fell on the third anniversary of his mother’s death, which has been an emotionally trying day for him each year since her passing, didn’t help either, he said.
“Personally I’m glad to be off. But it’s never been for me. I’m only here trying to represent people – all the people, not just one political party or philosophical group. I was most relieved to get off initially – it is a burden, but it is also a service,” McFadden said of the renewed sense of responsibility he feels to those who voted for him and wish to see him serve out his full 4-year term.
About that termination vote
As for questions surrounding the legality of a motion and vote out of closed session to terminate the town manager, those revolve around whether council was in a meeting or a work session out of the closed Executive Session on August 8. It has been pointed out that public bodies can’t take action at work sessions, only at meetings.
This reporter discussed that dynamic with Deputy, soon-to-be Interim Town Attorney George Sonnett the day after Hicks’ termination and McFadden’s resignation. And while the August 8 gathering of council was advertised as a “Special Work Session” with an added closed Executive Session attached, Sonnett’s opinion was that by town code Closed Sessions must be convened at an open meeting of council. Consequently, when council came out of Executive Session on August 8, it was to the open meeting they convened the closed session from. Hence, action could be taken before convening to the Special Work Session.
Royal Examiner contacted the mayor and council about these divergent theories on whether they were in a meeting or work session when the vote to terminate Steven Hicks was taken. The only answer we have yet received was from Vice-Mayor Lori Cockrell, who voted with McFadden and Letasha Thompson not to terminate the town manager on August 8.
“With respect to your question regarding the legality of voting during a work session, since I am not an attorney, I am forced to rely on the opinion of the town’s legal council who was present during the work session. Although, I must admit I do not ever recall voting on any matter during any previous work sessions while serving on council. Therefore to respond to your inquiry, I have requested that the interim town attorney provide a written legal opinion to the council and to the local news media explaining why taking a vote during that work session was within council’s legal rights and responsibilities. I am hopeful that his response will clear up any questions or concerns that citizens may have,” Cockrell, who is the only candidate for mayor on the November ballot replied by email.
As to McFadden’s resignation, Cockrell added, “Since Mr. McFadden was elected by the citizens of Front Royal, I am uncomfortable with removing him from office. However, some members of council believe the withdrawal of the resignation was legally ineffective. As a result, I have requested a consensus of my fellow councilmen to seek an impartial opinion by the Virginia Attorney General concerning this matter. I think this course of action best insures the continued trust of our citizens in the electoral process.”
Virginia launches playing cards designed to solve cold cases
On August 11, 2022, Attorney General Miyares announced that playing cards to help close unsolved homicides have been distributed to Richmond City Justice Center inmates for recreational use. The Attorney General partnered with the Richmond Sheriff’s Office, Richmond Police Department, Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, and Crime Stoppers to launch this project.
“The loss of a murdered loved one is devastating. Not receiving justice makes it even worse. I’m hopeful that this creative tool will help law enforcement provide answers and justice to these families,” said Attorney General Miyares.
“Families of loved ones who were taken from our community deserve closure, and we’ve seen this be an effective resource in other jurisdictions,” said Richmond Chief of Police Gerald Smith.”We are proud to participate in this endeavor as this is a creative method for generating interest and information on pending cases that could help generate new leads.”
The deck of playing cards, in the four standard suits, displays a photograph, name, and case details, while the reverse side includes the P3 tip line information and how to provide information regarding the case. The goal is that current inmates will recognize the face of the victim or remember a detail that could help law enforcement close the case.
If the inmate does have information, a family member or themselves would contact the tip line. If the information is valid and valuable, a reward will be given.
A view from a bench on Main Street: Sue Laurence, White Picket Fence
On Saturday morning, our publisher Mike McCool joined White Picket Fence proprietor Sue Laurence on a bench in front of White Picket Fence, on the 400 block of Main Street in Front Royal, and discussed all the events going on in Front Royal this fall, from Octoberfest, Festival of Leaves and Zombie Walk to name a few – all happening in Front Royal.
The big news is the 50th Annual Festival of Leaves happening on October 14-15, 2022 in downtown Front Royal. The Festival of Leaves has been reorganized and is now under the direction of the Front Royal Independent Business Alliance (FRIBA).
On October 14, 2022, the Town of Front Royal will kick off the festival with a “block party” at the Town Commons, providing music and fun for all ages. More information is available at FestivalofLeaves.org. There is still room for vendors, and applications are available on the Festival website.